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June 27, 2006

Launch time set for 3:48 pm on Saturday

T-Minus 4 days until launch, and the excitement -- and anxiety -- is building. The mission was approved in a gutsy call by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, over the objections of his Safety Officer and Chief Engineer.

We believe Griffin's call was the right one. The Shuttle team has worked incredibly hard to bring this mission to readiness, in the face of hurricanes, novel engineering problems, and the media microscope.

But it is time to fly. The federal government is growing restless about the Return to Flight budget, and it is time that NASA show results for the billions that have been spent on Shuttle since the Columbia accident in 2003.

We are a nation of explorers, and explorers sometime need to take a risk to move forward. Not a wild risk, but a calculated risk -- and that is what Griffin's decision was.

Specifically, first, that there was not a significant risk to the lives of the crew, who could find refuge on the International Space Station. Second, that the risk to the orbiter itself was a risk that was worth it, to move our space program forward.

We agree. And so now we wait for a successful launch on Saturday, into the blue Florida sky.

Posted by george_whitesides at June 27, 2006 10:14 PM



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